Test Review: Panasonic GX8

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October 8, 2015 at 10:30 am  •  Posted in Gear & Reviews, Review by  •  0 Comments

The Panasonic GX8

The Panasonic GX8

The GX8 is the new flagship of Panasonic’s G series. It is the first Micro Four Thirds (MFT) camera to have a resolution of 20 MP. The camera offers many very interesting features, like Dual I.S., which combines lens image stabilization and sensor-shift image stabilization.

The test-box shot is a little underexposed, which intensifies the slight yellowish look of the grey background. Colour reproduction looks very natural; only the dark blue (the thread spool in the upper right) is extremely boosted by very high saturation and high magenta rate.

The test-box shot is a little underexposed, which intensifies the slight yellowish look of the grey background. Colour reproduction looks very natural; only the dark blue (the thread spool in the upper right) is extremely boosted by very high saturation and high magenta rate.

Comments on Image Quality
Colour: The colour reproduction of the GX8 is very good. The white-balance system showed a slight shift of brighter neutral tones into the yellowish or greenish direction, but the overall result is good. Colour errors are on an average level for a Micro Four Thirds (MFT) or compact-system camera; only the dark blue nuances show a major aberration due to an extremely high saturation. This is visible in the dark blue thread spool in the upper right of our test-box shot. The blue spool almost seems to glow.

The reproduction of skin tones is excellent. The colour test pattern and the skin tones in our portrait shot had a natural look; only the magenta rate is a little high in some nuances, which is typical for Panasonic cameras. The test-box shot and the portrait shot were taken in “P” mode. Both images are a little underexposed.

Just like the test-box shot, the portrait shot is a little underexposed. The shot was taken in “P” mode, but the face-detection system caused a slightly darker look to prevent burned out highlights on the skin, for example. Darker skin tones have a slightly high magenta rate.

Just like the test-box shot, the portrait shot is a little underexposed. The shot was taken in “P” mode, but the face-detection system caused a slightly darker look to prevent burned out highlights on the skin, for example. Darker skin tones have a slightly high magenta rate.

Sharpness: Panasonic’s new camera has an image sensor with 20 MP. The nominal image resolution is 5184 x 3888 pixels. We had a test unit with the LUMIX G VARIO 14-140 mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH, which is a very good zoom lens, but not a prime lens for maximum resolution. Nevertheless, the test unit reproduced the test chart with 3659 of 3888 lines per picture height, which is a very good result. But ImaTest also stated a very high and intense sharpness filtering. The overshoot effect is very high (29.1 percent), and the image of the hard b/w lines showed some clipping effects on these lines. This may cause a slight artificial look in the reproduction of fine details, but the test images didn’t show these effects. Instead, they had a slightly softer look. So the sharpness filtering seems to depend on the scene (even when using standard exposure modes like “P” mode instead of special scene modes).

Noise: The Panasonic GX8 has the highest sensor pixel density of any Micro Four Thirds camera; it offers 20 MP on a 17.3 x 13 cm sensor. Therefore the luminance noise in standard ISO speed settings of 200 to 3200 is a little higher than in images taken with other MFT cameras. The colour noise is nearly invisible in images taken with ISO 200 to 3200, but the camera uses an increasing anti-noise filtering to compensate for colour noise effects. So in images taken with ISO 3200 to 25600 this “image smoothing” becomes visible and also reduces detail reproduction. While the effect is still acceptable in ISO 12800 mode, images taken with the highest ISO speed setting of 25600 show massive filtering effects.
Panasonic told us that compared to the GX7, the dynamic range of the GX8 was enhanced by nearly 1/3 of an f-stop—even though the pixel density increased. We confirmed this in our tests. The Panasonic GX8 showed a maximum of 11.8 f-stops (GX7: 11.7 f-stops), which is on a professional level. The camera keeps a high dynamic range level (> 10 f-stops) up to ISO 1600; in higher ISO speed modes, it drops to about 9 f-stops, which is a good result.

The viewfinder can be tilted into a 90-degree upright position, which makes taking images near the ground or on a low tripod very comfortable. All interfaces of the GX8 are located on the left-hand side of the body and are covered by a plastic cap.

The viewfinder can be tilted into a 90-degree upright position, which makes taking images near the ground or on a low tripod very comfortable. All interfaces of the GX8 are located on the left-hand side of the body and are covered by a plastic cap.

Comments on Handling

The new Panasonic GX8 follows the GX7, which was the top model of the viewfinder-style cameras of the G series. Just like the GX7, it looks like a classic range-finder camera, but it has an electronic tiltable viewfinder. The viewfinder uses a high resolution OLED display with 2.36 million RGB dots and creates a very a crisp, sharp reproduction of the viewfinder image. It offers 100-percent field of view (standard for EVFs) and is very large. It’s comparable to a 35-mm full-frame viewfinder with scaling factor of 0.77x (real: 1.54x), so it is nearly as large as the Sony A7R II viewfinder or similar high-end cameras (Canon 1Dx: 0.76x/Nikon D4s: 0.7x). In combination with the tilt function of the GX8 viewfinder (it can be flipped upward by 90 degrees), this system offers comfortable image evaluation and control. As an electronic viewfinder, it also offers a lot of comfort features like focus peaking, an electronic level, a magnifier function and more. Manual focusing is very easy with the new Panasonic.

The Panasonic has a touchscreen and a standard 4-way control field for menu navigation. The “Q.MENU” button offers direct access to the most important image parameters. The user can define the function of the real “Fn” buttons on the body of the camera and the virtual “Fn” buttons on the touch screen.

The Panasonic has a touchscreen and a standard 4-way control field for menu navigation. The “Q.MENU” button offers direct access to the most important image parameters. The user can define the function of the real “Fn” buttons on the body of the camera and the virtual “Fn” buttons on the touch screen.

In addition to its viewfinder, the camera offers a very large LCD screen (8 cm/3.2 in.) on the back. Its resolution of 921000 RGB dots is a little low for such a large LCD and a top-of-the-line camera, but nevertheless this LCD is very helpful, because it is fully articulated and can even be swiveled to the side or to the front of the camera.
The body of the GX8 is a little bulkier than its forerunner. The new camera has a massive magnesium-alloy body with a larger grip on its right-hand side, which makes handling very comfortable. The GX has a lot of set-up dials to change image parameters. The first dial is located directly beneath the shutter-release button; the second is located on the top of the camera and can be easily reached with the thumb of the right hand. In addition the camera has a mode dial on the top, which allows for choosing standard exposure modes or three custom modes (C1 to C3) with individual settings. Directly beneath the mode dial, the photographer can use a second dial for EV compensation (by +/- 5 EV stops). Both dials can also be reached by the thumb of the right hand.

Changing exposure parameters is easy with two set-up dials on the top. Additional dials aid in choosing exposure modes or using the EV compensation (+/- 5 EV stops).

Changing exposure parameters is easy with two set-up dials on the top. Additional dials aid in choosing exposure modes or using the EV compensation (+/- 5 EV stops).

The camera has a new image stabilization system. The GX7 was Panasonic’s first G camera with an internal image stabilizer based on sensor shift technology. Many MFT lenses produced by Panasonic offer an optical stabilizer system, and the GX8 is now the first of the MFT cameras that can combine both stabilizer systems. During the test this Dual I.S. worked very well. We shot a lot of scenes with shutter speeds of ¼ to 1/6 second and always had very good results.
In addition to its standard USB port for data transfer to the PC and its HDMI interface for image/video presentation on a TV screen, the GX8 offers Wi-Fi functionality. Panasonic has a free app for Apple iOS and Android that can be used as a remote control (including live preview on the mobile device). Establishing the connection between the Panasonic to a smartphone/tablet PC is very easy: using the NFC function, the photographer just has to hold both devices against each other.

Pros
+ compact-system camera with a retro-style design
+ highest sensor resolution of any Micro Four Thirds camera
+ bigger and bulkier body than the GX7, which makes the GX8 very easy to handle
+ comfortable shooting with a large and high resolution viewfinder/swivel viewfinder
+ a lot of set-up dials, wheels and function buttons for professional handling
+ 4K video/Full HD video with a high bit rate and full manual control for video and sound
+ swivel LCD
+ Wi-Fi (including NFC module)

Cons
– no built-in flash
– large LCD screen on the back has slightly low resolution
– no GPS system

The swivel LCD of the Panasonic GX8 is fully articulated and very large (3.2 inches/8 cm), but its resolution is a little low (921000 RGB dots).

The swivel LCD of the Panasonic GX8 is fully articulated and very large (3.2 inches/8 cm), but its resolution is a little low (921000 RGB dots).


This review is based on precise lab tests conducted by BetterNet GmbH and provided by the Technical Imaging Press Association (TIPA). TIPA is the largest family of independent photo and imaging magazines worldwide.
Photo Life is an active member of TIPA.

SPEC SHEET: Panasonic GX8
BASIC TECHNICAL DATA:
Resolution 5184 x 3888
Resolution sensor 21.8
Size of sensor (in inches) 0/0.00
Size of sensor (in mm) 17.3 x 13.0
TAKING PICTURES:
Start-up time (in sec) 0.15
Shutter delay without pre-focusing (in sec) 0.09
Shutter delay with pre-focusing (in sec) 0.00
Continuous shooting speed (frames per second) 8.0
Max. burst during continuous shooting speed 999.0
Fastest shutter speed (in sec) 1/16000
Long time exposure/shutter speed (in sec) 60
Self timer yes
Exposure Settings:
Aperture pre-setting, shutter speed pre-setting, manual exposure settings,
automatic bracketing, time-lapse photography
Exposure programs 24
White balance:
Auto yes
White-balance settings 5
Individual white balance yes
ISO:
ISO min 200
ISO max 25600
ISO steps 22
Manual ISO control yes
FLASH:
Integrated flash no
Flash mode:
On, off, automatic flash, slow-sync, anti-red-eye, rear-curtain sync
External Flash:
X-sync no
Accessory shoe yes
FILE FORMATS:
Standard file formats JPEG, RAW, DCF
JPEG compression grades: 2
LCD AND PREVIEW:
Size (in inches) 3.0
Resolution of LCD (in pixels) 1040000
Zoom mode during preview yes
Index during preview yes
Slideshow during preview yes
VIDEO:
Video available yes
Max. width 3840
Max. height 2160
Picture frequency 30
4k with high bit rate
POWER SOURCE:
Rechargeable battery yes
Battery type Li-Ion
Battery charger included yes
Power connector no
Power supply unit no
STORAGE SYSTEM:
Supported memory cards SD card, SDHC card, SDXC card
PC CONNECTION:
PC connection USB 2.0, HDMI, WLAN
TV out PAL/NTSC HDMI
DIMENSIONS:
Dimensions (width x height x depth; in mm) 133 x 77 x 63
Weight (body without battery and memory card; in g) 487
ACCESSORIES:
Docking station no
Printed manual yes
Manual on CD yes
Bag no
Remote control no

 

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